Lebron’s 2008 Cleveland Cavaliers and Allen Iverson’s 2001 Philadelphia 76er’s have more in common than just captain Eric Snow. I’ll get to that in a minute though, for now I must say Cav’s GM Danny Ferry took a big risk before this year’s trade deadline, breaking up a group that just last year rallied to the NBA Finals. Obviously the road to the finals has gotten much tougher in the East this year with the off season trades and signings that created the juggernaut “Big Three” in Celtic nation, however the move Danny Ferry made in my opinion was nothing more than shipping out scoring talent and replacing it with hustle, and athleticism. Who got shipped: Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, Shannon Brown, and Cedric Simmons. Who they got in return: Joe Smith, Ben Wallace, Delonte West, and Wally Szerbiak. However, given Cav’s coach Mike Brown’s penchant for defense, it doesn’t surprise me that Ferry had the support of the Coaching staff on this one.
A lot of you may say, ‘hustle, defense, and athleticism, what’s wrong with that?’ And on some days in the month of May, I might even say you were correct given the grind it out style of play in the NBA playoffs. Every possession feels like double the value of a possession in the regular season. However, I would only agree with you if I hadn’t been a rabid NBA fan for much of my life and had no memory of Allen Iverson and the 76’ers legendary run in the 2001 NBA playoffs, that ended in a huge fan let down and subsequent Sixer’s drubbing by the high powered LA Lakers who were anchored by the perfect mix of scoring talent and role players.
What is the perfect mix for a championship team? See 2000-2001 Lakers team roster.
Every NBA analyst, Coach, and GM knows that throughout history virtually every NBA champion had at least two legitimate superstar scoring options, whom on any given possession could create their own shot. Think Michael and Scottie, Shaq and Kobe, Magic and Kareem, Shaq and Wade, even the trio of Rasheed/Billups/Hamilton qualify.
Since Ferry didn’t have enough valuable assets at his disposal to pull off a blockbuster trade to get Lebron a second legitimate superstar scoring option to draw some defensive attention away from King James, he is taking a page out of the former Sixer’s GM Billy King’s book. The theory I’m referring to is to surround your franchise scoring machine with highly attainable role players who are very unselfish, defensive minded, rebounding/shot blocking machines. Why are they so attainable? Because of their obvious inability to put the ball in the basket.
Don’t believe me…. let’s do a couple of quick comparisons. The Cavs utilitarian Ben Wallace (08) or the “Big Z” Zydrunas Ilgauskas can pretty much equate to what the Sixer’s got out of the timeless wonder Dikembe Mutumbo (01) in rebounding and shot blocking. Defensive minded, veteran leader Eric Snow is quite obvious as he was on both rosters in question (although he hasn’t got much court time in regular season, don’t be surprised to see him emerge in the post-season as a Mike Brown favorite in the rotation). Regardless, the Cavs current point guard of choice, Delonte West, brings similar tools to the table as Eric Snow in 2001 aside from some added jump shooting abilities. How about the wingmen? Iverson had Aaron McKie and George Lynch; and sure enough Lebron has similar specialists in Daniel Gibson and Wally Szerbiak. We all know with only one legitimate scoring option the superstar must put up a lot of shots, and I guess so did Billy King, as he brought in the likes of Mutumbo, Hill, and Lynch to crash the boards with reckless abandon, in the same way Danny Ferry has charged Big Ben, Big Z, and Joe Smith with the task of cleanup crew.
Still wondering about the 2001 Sixers to 2008 Cavs comparison? Here are the tangibles…
FOCAL POINT COMPARISON:
|PPG||FG %||3P %||Assists||Rebounds||Steals|
SUPORTING CAST COMPARISON:
|E. Snow (01)||9.8||41||3.3||7.4||0.14||1.5|
|D. West (08)||9.0||41||3.6||4.5||0.76||0.83|
Well enough with the numbers already, huh?
I’m not really much of a numbers guy anyway, as I like to look at the intangibles a player can bring to the table. And although I think GM Danny Ferry this year is making the same mistakes with the Cavaliers that Billy King made with the 76ers in 2001, because of Lebron’s proven leadership qualities and ability to defy the odds every playoff game he was in last year, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable betting against him.
I realize some of you out there may say, “what’s wrong with an NBA Finals appearance?”, well the answer is nothing. But if you want the real answer, go ask Allen Iverson or Lebron James if they are satisfied with their NBA Finals appearances…
In the mean time, my advice to Danny Ferry is simple, take less advice from ex-GM Billy King, and wherever possible take more advice from Celtics GM Danny Ainge, Suns GM Steve Kerr, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, and San Antonio GM R.C. Buford.